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In Memoriam: Aretha Franklin, Kofi Annan and Others We Lost in 2018

Aretha Franklin performs on stage in 1972. (Norman L. Hunter/Ebony Collection)

From the “Queen of Soul” and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient to a rap pioneers to an anti-Apartheid leader, several notable figures passed away in 2018, leaving behind loved ones and legions of admirers who will remember them for the work they contributed to the world.

We here at EBONY are remembering:

Reg E. Cathey

LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 12, 2015: Actor Reg E. Cathey in the press room at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards 2015 at the Microsoft Theatre LA Live. – Shutterstock

Actor Reg E. Cathey, who appeared on hit shows such as House of Cards, The Wire and Luke Cage, died Feb. 9 after a battle with lung cancer. He was 59.

The Alabama native won an Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy Award in 2015 for his work on House of Cards.

Ensa Cosby

The 44-year-old daughter of Bill Cosby died Feb. 23 from renal disease, her family confirmed.

Ensa supported the disgraced comedian throughout his sexual assault trial, saying in a statement last year, her father “has been publicly lynched in the media, and my family, my young daughter, my young niece and nephew have had to stand helplessly by and watch the double standard or pretending to protect the rights of some but ignoring the rights of others.”

Craig Mack

Craig Mack, the” rapper who helped put Bad Boy Records on the map, died of heart failure March 13. He was 47.

His 1994 hit “Flava in Ya Ear” was the first single from Bad Boy and was one of the songs that defined hip-hop in the 1990s.

Born in Queens, New York, Mack would work alongside rap greats such as The Notorious B.I.G. and LL Cool J.

He started writing songs when he was 12 years old and knew he always wanted to become a rapper.

“I finished high school,” he told The New York Times in 1995, adding, “But I wanted to rap more than anything, and there were no courses in rap at college. So I wouldn’t go.”

Dushon Monique Brown

Dushon Monique Brown

Screenshot/Instagram

Chicago Fire fans were shocked to hear the news that actress Dushon Monique Brown, 49, who played Connie, died March 23 after suffering from sepsis, a blood infection.

The Chicago native joined the show when it premiered in 2012 and also appeared on the FOX series Prison Break.

In 2005, Brown earned her master’s degree in counseling. It was revealed, during Chicago Fire’s Season Seven premiere in September, her character was written off the show; having accepted a new job.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Anti-apartheid leader Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died April 2 after suffering from a “long illness,” said her spokesman Victor Dlamini. She was 81.

Mandikizela-Mandela, who was former South African resident Nelson Mandela’s second wife, was a controversial figure in the African nation after she was convicted of kidnapping and seen as an “accessory to assault” in connection with the death of a teenager by the hands of her bodyguard in 1991, three years before she became first lady.

In 1993, she became the leader of the African National Congress Women’s League was elected to parliament and a year later.  and served under President Mandela as his deputy minister of arts, culture, science, and technology.

“Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid. She fought valiantly against the Apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country,” her spokesman Victor Dlamini said in a statement at the time.

Over the years, she has been portrayed in films by actresses Alfre Woodward, Jennifer Hudson and Naomi Harris.

Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson attends the 33rd Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards at the Orleans Arena on March 24th, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada- Shutterstock

Jackson family patriarch Joe, 89, died June 27 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The father of music icons Michael and Janet Jackson had been a steelworker in Gary, Indiana before shaping and managing the Jackson 5 (sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael) and helping the group attain international superstar status. Joe was also known for how tough he was on his children and admitted to doling out physical punishments to his kids, something he said he did not regret.

A few days before his death, Joe posted this ominous message on his Twitter account:

“I have seen more sunsets than I have left to see. The sun rises when the time comes and whether you like it or not the sun sets when the time comes,” Joe Jackson wrote on June 24.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, Iconic performance, ebony

Soul singer Aretha Franklin gives a spirited performance on stage at Chicago’s Arie Crown Theater in 1985. (Vandell Cobb/Ebony Collection)

The “Queen of Soul” passed away Aug. 16 at the age of 76 Aug. 16 after a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Franklin’s death was a major blow for generations of fans who grew up listening to her belt out jams with her signature soulful voice.

The Queen won 18 Grammy Awards and sold 75 million albums, becoming one of the top-selling artists of all time.

In a testament to Franklin ’s larger-than-life personality, her memorial service was eight hours long and featured performances and speeches from Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder and former President Bill Clinton.

Franklin’s $80 million estate will be divided among her four sons.

Kofi Annan

KIEV, UKRAINE – OCTOBER 29, 2008: Kofi Annan – Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations. Annan was also the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001- Shutterstock

Annan, who made history by becoming the first Black African to become Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), died Aug. 18 after battling a “short illness,” his foundation announced. He was 80.

The Ghanaian was the seventh person to become the UN’s secretary-general. He served from 1997 to 2006, and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his “work for a better organized and more peaceful world.”

Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world,” his foundation said in a statement earlier this year. “During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations, he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law.”

Roy Hargrove

Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove died at age of 49 of cardiac arrest Nov. 2. The Grammy Award-winning musician paved a lane for himself with his stylings of jazz and neo-soul.

He released his first album, Diamond in the Rough, in 1990, and worked on D’Angelo’s album Voodoo, Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun and Common’s Like Water for Chocolate.

Kim Porter

Kim Porter at a Photo Exhibit Opening Featuring The Work of Cheryl Fox. The Celebrity Vault, Beverly Hills, CA. 06-26-09

Many people were shocked to learn that model and actress Kim Porter, 47, died suddenly in her Los Angeles home on Nov. 15.

The ex-girlfriend of Sean “Diddy” Combs had been battling pneumonia, according to reports, and suffered cardiac arrest.

She is survived by her son Quincy, 27, from a relationship with Al B. Sure! and her son Christian, 20; and twin daughters, Jessie James and D’Lila, 12, whom she had with Combs.

Nancy Wilson

John Legend, Viola Davis and Others Mourn Jazz Singer Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson appears in this undated studio photo. (Vandell Cobb/Ebony Collection)
Johnson Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Iconic jazz singer Nancy Wilson passed away from an undisclosed illness Dec. 13. She was 81.

The three-time Grammy Award winner recorded the classics “Guess Who I Saw Today,” her debut single, in 1960; and “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am,” for which she won her first Grammy in 1965.

The singer considered herself a “song stylist.”  She told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010, “I do not do runs and — you know. I take a lyric and make it mine. I consider myself an interpreter of the lyric.”

EBONY Media Operations Chairman Emeritus Linda Johnson Rice, had this to say after Wilson’s passing: “The stunning jazz songstress Nancy Wilson showcased Fashion Fair Cosmetics in 1973 in EBONY magazine. Nancy’s voice was one of a kind.”

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